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Engine will power the ZEOD RC hybrid race car

When it comes to racing cars, lighter is always better as long as the components can survive the stresses of racing. In keeping with the “lighter is better” mantra, Nissan has unveiled one of the smallest engines that has ever been used on the racetrack. The new 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder engine will be used to power Nissan’s entry into the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.
The tiny engine, which is called the DIG-T R, weighs only 88 pounds and uses a turbocharger to develop an impressive 400 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. The engine produces 4.5 hp per pound giving it a better power to weight ration than the new turbo 1.6L V6 engines that will be used in F1 this year.

The little engine will be used to help power the Nissan ZEOD RC racecar. The drivetrain in the racing car will be able to switch between electric and gas power during the race, with the battery packs charged by regenerative braking.
The engine will be mated to a 5-speed gearbox, which will manage power from both the electric and gas engines.

"Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine," said Darren Cox, Nissan's Global Motorsport Director. "We knew the electric component of the Nissan ZEOD RC was certainly going to turn heads at Le Mans, but our combined zero emission on demand electric/petrol powerplant is quite a stunning piece of engineering.”
According to Nissan, for every hour driven the car will be able to complete a single lap on battery power alone.

Source: Nissan

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By chromal on 1/28/2014 10:39:51 AM , Rating: 5
I wanna swap that into my old mazda mx-5. :)

RE: haha
By Brandon Hill on 1/28/2014 10:50:46 AM , Rating: 3
Man, that would be a HELL of a lot of fun!

RE: haha
By villageidiotintern on 1/28/2014 7:29:35 PM , Rating: 2
More fun in my SeaDoo! It's perfect for it.

RE: haha
By ipay on 1/28/2014 11:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on the power band; it might not have a lot of area under the curves and just be very peaky. That would not be much fun for a street car.

I put Cosworth cams in my STi and it instantly became much less fun on the street just with the modest torque band shift.

RE: haha
By Spuke on 1/28/2014 12:15:40 PM , Rating: 4
Nissan states 7,500 RPM.
That's not peaky AT ALL. That just made this engine even more awesome. This in a stripped Miata would be stupid fun.

RE: haha
By ipay on 1/28/2014 12:18:01 PM , Rating: 2
Uhhhh... The rev limit has NOTHING to do with a peaky power band, or power output for that matter.

RE: haha
By Spuke on 1/28/14, Rating: 0
RE: haha
By ipay on 1/28/2014 1:13:24 PM , Rating: 4
That's not peaky AT ALL
I already get it
Apparently you don't if you think rev limits have anything to do with power band profiles.

Reving the piss out of it all the time wouldn't be much fun, rarely feasible in real world driving, and somewhat pointless depending on the power band and fine drive ratio. An engine with a broad power band, esp. torque, is almost always more fun that one that looks like a pencil standing upright.

Don't know who down-rated, but they probably saw someone who doesn't know what they are talking about and voted accordingly.

RE: haha
By Spuke on 1/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: haha
By ipay on 1/28/2014 2:33:12 PM , Rating: 4
Nope. Carving canyons, track days, autox, etc would be better with a nice flat line. You're not going all out in these situations. You don't want to be shifting all the time to stay in a tiny power band, and you will inevitably find yourself falling out of it.

RE: haha
By Spuke on 1/28/2014 4:04:07 PM , Rating: 1
Nope. Carving canyons, track days, autox, etc would be better with a nice flat line.
Nope. Ever think that someone might have different driving style than you? With proper gearing the car will stay right in the powerband. Race cars operate with narrow powerbands all the time (again proper gearing), why do you think Cosworth made those cams you put in your car? Do you think I'd drop a motor like this into a bone stock Miata?

RE: haha
By ipay on 1/29/2014 4:31:12 AM , Rating: 4
Different driving styles is all well and good, but it doesn't change physics.

why do you think Cosworth made those cams you put in your car?
Well if you think it was to create a narrow power band you are wrong. Torque was down 18% at red line (8300 RPM, fully built engine) from the peak on the stock cams. With the Cosworth cams I'm only down 11% peak to red line; they helped broaden the torque range. Why? Cause that's what you want in an engine! For most driving conditions.

One of my friends got all crazy and put an enormous turbo in his STi (also pushed out the displacement a bit). A side effect of this is a very narrow power band due to lag, but when the turbo hits, it's violent. On C16 he's tuned to the high 700HP range. At the drag strip, it's no contest; out of the hole I look good, but then that huge snail spools and he walks me like I was standing still. But on a relatively, compact road course without a long straight, he can't keep up. His ~250 peak horsepower advantage that helps him dominate in the quarter, is trumped by the wider power band in a tight road course.

RE: haha
By splatter85 on 1/28/14, Rating: 0
RE: haha
By 91TTZ on 1/28/2014 6:19:05 PM , Rating: 3
It sounds almost like you WANT to have a limited engine instead of a more practical engine with a nice torque curve. That's pretty lame.

I used to mop up on S2000s all day and they'd always have an excuse, "Yeah, well if I had a turbo I would've left you behind!"

Well you don't, and you didn't.

There is no advantage to having an engine produce its power at high RPM. HP is the ultimate number and it doesn't matter whether you produce max HP at 4000 or 10,000 RPM. All that matters is power. An engine that is making 200 HP at 10,000 RPM is still making 200 HP. An engine that is making 200 HP at 5,000 RPM is still making 200 HP.

RE: haha
By ipay on 1/29/2014 3:59:07 AM , Rating: 1
You obviously never met me. I've owned two S2000s; both 2nd gen. One I supercharged and added methanol/water injection. Guess which one was better on the street and the track.

In the same spirit, I've owned and raced many Miatas; I used to have a bit of an old cat lady thing going on but with Miatas. Including a high compression, high RPM normally-aspirated build, a few mildly boosted and heavily boosted turboed ones, one Ford 5.0 swap, and one LS swap.

BTW, if you get creative you can get 3 Miatas in a 2 car garage. (Hint: one has to go parallel to the door.)

RE: haha
By Samus on 1/28/2014 5:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Since they are still using a manual with standard ratios (they don't disclose the final drive ratio, however) I'd guess it has a conservative powerband. Of course something this small, boosted so large, isn't going to knock your socks off at 1000rpm but I'm sure its completely usable above 2000RPM if the rev limit is really 7500RPM. Otherwise they'd use this opportunity to showcase their CVT technology.

7500RPM rev limit says a lot for drivability. It's safe to assume the cams aren't street-friendly, but people drive 10000RPM limit V8's on the street around here with very radical cams, albeit with high stalls in a slushbox, not a manual.

RE: haha
By 91TTZ on 1/28/2014 6:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
Since they are still using a manual with standard ratios (they don't disclose the final drive ratio, however) I'd guess it has a conservative powerband.

You can only guess, and there isn't enough information to come to an educated guess, either.

Of course something this small, boosted so large, isn't going to knock your socks off at 1000rpm but I'm sure its completely usable above 2000RPM if the rev limit is really 7500RPM.

You don't know that. At that low of an RPM the turbo may not be spooled enough to make much boost (which a tiny engine needs to produce torque)

. Otherwise they'd use this opportunity to showcase their CVT technology.

Are they even allowed to use a CVT in their race class? You can't just pick and choose what parts you want to put in a race car. Your hands are tied with regulations.

RE: haha
By 91TTZ on 1/28/2014 6:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
That's not peaky AT ALL.

How in the world are you going to make a judgment on how peaky the powerband is just by looking at the RPM limit? For all you know, that turbo might not be fully spooled until 5500 rpm.

RE: haha
By DanNeely on 1/28/2014 11:27:45 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder how long it's expected to last before wearing out. If they're redlining the engine so hard that it will need a rebuild after 48 hours it shouldn't be a problem (other than cost) for the race in question; but would be a major problem for anyone wanting to use it to make their sports car better.

RE: haha
By Dr K on 1/30/2014 2:44:46 PM , Rating: 2
If the race is 24 hrs, they're designed to last 24 hrs before needing work. These engines are on the bleeding edge because they want to win. I don't know specifically with this race, but often they have 1 engine they use for the qualifier race, another engine for the actual race and a spare engine in case they need it. Cost is not an issue for these guys and long life is not a design consideration.

RE: haha
By euler007 on 1/28/2014 12:36:17 PM , Rating: 3
You might want to get a six-pack, because these aren't designed to last very long at a high reliability rate.

RE: haha
By Jeffk464 on 1/28/2014 12:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
This engine belongs in sport class airplanes.

RE: haha
By sorry dog on 1/28/2014 12:56:26 PM , Rating: 2
LSA airplanes are typically 120hp or less. Anymore and they usually aren't considered LSA anymore and can't be certified as such.

But perhaps you meant sport as in racing airplane?

In any case, even in a race plane reliability and durability is given higher design priority. Previous installs of turbo subaru boxer engines have worked out for while, but the necessary gear reduction box has proved to be continuing headache for long term use.

RE: haha
By Dorkyman on 1/28/2014 3:07:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the power to weight ratio is attractive for aircraft use, but what you really are looking for is extreme reliability, and engines tweaked to this extent have to sacrifice in other areas, including reliability.

There's a reason Lycoming and Continental aircraft engines look the way they do. It's natural selection at work.

RE: haha
By Jeffk464 on 1/28/2014 9:47:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds right they just seem so technologically archaic.

RE: haha
By Jeffk464 on 1/29/2014 11:28:58 AM , Rating: 3
Here is an idea that I saw in a motorcycle, bring back mazda's rotary engine. They have ideal power to weight and are suppose to be very reliable just not that efficient.

RE: haha
By ipay on 1/29/2014 11:53:22 AM , Rating: 2
Rotor sealing can still be a problem, but the big issues are fuel consumption and emissions. It's still being researched, but those two things are keeping them out of current production cars.

RE: haha
By gixser on 1/28/2014 4:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
That was exactly my reaction!

By Pessimism on 1/28/2014 11:50:09 AM , Rating: 2
Rubber timing belt....

RE: Really?
By Ghost42 on 1/28/2014 11:56:39 AM , Rating: 2
Lightweight.. only has to last 24hrs or so

RE: Really?
By Flunk on 1/28/2014 11:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
That and it won't shatter when it breaks destroying the engine.

RE: Really?
By ipay on 1/28/2014 12:00:30 PM , Rating: 2
And how is a Kevlar (or similar) timing belt a bad thing? It's not uncommon on many cars, including Subaru rally cars.

RE: Really?
By msheredy on 1/28/2014 12:06:04 PM , Rating: 2
Most cars today utilize rubber in their timing belts. Less valve train harmonics and they keep accurate timing.

RE: Really?
By bah12 on 1/28/2014 12:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
You do understand that the synthetic rubber belts are far more reliable from a stretch perspective. When you need dead on accurate timing steel just won't cut it as it is far more likely to stretch/distort.

Let me guess you had a 1980 civic mess up the heads because of the synthetic belt, and now you just ignorantly hate them. Even though they have a scheduled maintenance that you most likely ignored.

RE: Really?
By Jeffk464 on 1/28/2014 12:44:04 PM , Rating: 3
Depends on the engine some get damaged by the timing belt breaking and some don't. Either way it shouldn't happen with proper maintenance.

RE: Really?
By AMDftw on 1/29/2014 9:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
Honda and Mitsubishi has been using Rubber timing belts for a long time. Some of those cars even have 800+ Bhp.

Pikers ... only 400 HP
By M'n'M on 1/28/2014 11:39:43 AM , Rating: 2
Back in the mid 80's 1.5l turbo F1 engines made 1000 HP in race trim and 1400, some say 1800, HP in qualifying form. IIRC there were no regulated boost limits.

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By Ghost42 on 1/28/2014 12:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, not really all that impressive from a HP to LB aspect when compared to engines in the past.

Top Fuel cars come in @ about 17-20HP per LB, but then again they can't be run for more then 10 seconds at a time.

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By sorry dog on 1/28/2014 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
4 to 1 is pretty impressive in my book for an engine that must last 24 or more hours.

That's a little better than a modern race 2 stroke (Mercury Drag is about 400hp from 180# powerhead)and up there with turbine power to weight (although turbine reliability is different)

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By Johnmcl7 on 1/28/2014 1:53:02 PM , Rating: 3
F1 engines are not comparable particularly a qualifying engine which could be tuned so high it would only need to last a few laps before failing. What makes the engine in the article impressive is that it will need to be able to run 24 hours flat out and efficiently making the technology a lot more relevant.

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By sorry dog on 1/29/2014 11:06:10 AM , Rating: 2
Assuming the engine rules haven't changed I believe they are only allowed so many engines in a season (gearboxes too). If they exceed that then their start position is penalized.

Of course the devil is in the details... don't know if they are allowed complete teardowns in between or allowed to fix blocks with windows in them.

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By Motoman on 1/28/2014 9:03:32 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't they run on methanol back then? Makes a huge difference vs. gasoline.

RE: Pikers ... only 400 HP
By sorry dog on 1/29/2014 11:18:11 AM , Rating: 2
Not really. Methanol use was partially because of safety. If on fire it could be put with water, versus gasoline where water just spreads your fire around.

Alcohol can make more power compared to motor fuel from higher peak cylinder pressures, but the same can be said of 114 octane gas. Google Sunoco race gas and you'll see lots of blends that exceed alcohol at better stoic ratios.

Oxygen enriched fuels like nitrous shouldn't be compared since you talking about other processes at that point.

By Mint on 1/28/2014 11:44:19 AM , Rating: 2
Is it just the engine block with all the parts that fit inside? It seems hard to believe that it's the entire engine, turbo, intake, exhaust, cooling system, alternator, etc. But maybe a few of those are included in the figure.

Anyway, quite an impressive piece of engineering. I wonder how high it revs, and what kind of de-tuning will be needed for the production version.

By ipay on 1/28/2014 11:51:12 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on your definition of "entire engine". I do not include things like turbo, intake, exhaust, or cooling system in "entire engine". I would include water and oil pumps however, but even then I think that is being generous to some peoples definition.

Nissan states 7,500 RPM.

By jRaskell on 1/29/2014 12:32:32 PM , Rating: 2
If it doesn't include everything the engine needs to make 400hp, then it's misleading.

That being said, I'm fairly sure it doesn't include everything. These claims almost always exclude fluids from the weight calculations, even if they do include all the systems those fluids are needed for.

Ultimately, the only number that really matters is the real world performance of the entire vehicle itself, in it's intended operating environment.

By ipay on 1/30/2014 8:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
If it doesn't include everything the engine needs to make 400hp, then it's misleading.
I disagree; where do you draw the line? Gas tank? Fuel lines? Wiring harness? Battery? FPR? Etc Etc

That cannot be the car.
By Motoman on 1/28/2014 9:12:32 PM , Rating: 1
Is that supposed to be their race car?

It's impossible. You can't have the front wheels be so narrowly together with the rear wheels so far apart. It won't f%cking turn.

It could be a dragster...but nothing else.

RE: That cannot be the car.
By Mint on 1/30/2014 4:21:52 AM , Rating: 2
How cute. Motoman trying to be an engineer...

RE: That cannot be the car.
By Motoman on 2/3/2014 2:33:11 PM , Rating: 2
No...there's a reason why all cars have wheelbase dimensions that are at least equal front-to-rear...and why if anything, you make the front wheelbase wider than the rear.

Other than dragsters.

How cute - Mint being a moron again. It's common sense if you take 2 seconds to think about it.

not sure...
By elleehswon on 1/28/2014 11:08:38 AM , Rating: 2
if lawn dart or hotwheels that got ran over in the driveway.

RE: not sure...
By Ghost42 on 1/28/2014 12:02:50 PM , Rating: 2
By Ghost42 on 1/28/2014 12:05:55 PM , Rating: 1
but our combined zero emission on demand electric/petrol powerplant is quite a stunning piece of engineering.

A zero emission petrol engine...

RE: Really..
By Brockway on 1/28/2014 12:45:33 PM , Rating: 2
Zero emission on demand. There is a slash in there between the zero emission and petrol part meaning the 2 phrases are separated while still being combined, kind of like in the car.

By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 1/28/2014 5:08:43 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty neat, but how efficient?

If a 100kW version of this could extract say 16kWh of power out of a gallon of gas, it'd be a pretty big win. 20kWh would be spectacular.. Maybe a Miller cycle with electric turbocharger..

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